Donna Marion, Ph.D. (Business Education ’93), serves as the dean of Professional Studies, which includes the Business and Education departments at Pensacola Christian College. She invests in and supports her department chairs and faculty members, who work diligently to equip students to influence the world for Christ. Since earning her undergrad degree, Dr. Marion has received a master’s in business technology and a Ph.D. in educational technology. From her range of experience, Dr. Marion has had the opportunity to teach many students, ranging from high school students as an Abeka video teacher to graduate students in technology courses.
1. You graduated with a degree in business education at PCC. What led you to choose this field?
As a teenager, I really believed the Lord was calling me to the mission field. My parents and pastor advised me to choose a major that would be useful, so I originally started studying office administration because I wasn’t aware of the business education major. I loved anything and everything to do with business-related classes, but my mom felt like adding the education component would give me more flexibility on the mission field.
2. Where did the Lord lead you after graduating in ’93?
I moved to Hackensack, New Jersey, to teach sixth grade at Hackensack Christian School. The Lord orchestrated many events to get me to move to New Jersey. I questioned the Lord a lot about my going there but knew that was where He led me. The Lord used that experience to help me learn to fully trust in Him, even when so many things didn’t make sense at the time. I made some lifelong friends and loved being part of the ministry there.
3. Can you share what inspired your interest in technology?
At the time, computers were starting to become more prevalent in education. I took an elective class in my master’s that was about technology in education. I loved the class and wanted to learn more about how technology could be used in the classroom.
4. What brought you back to PCC, and what have you accomplished since returning?
After teaching in New Jersey for a few years, I felt like the Lord was leading me to something different—I just didn’t know what. I contacted one of my PCC teachers, whom I had stayed in contact with, and asked if Pensacola Christian Academy (PCA) was looking for a computer/keyboarding teacher. He encouraged me to apply to teach at PCC. I was nervous about doing so because I knew that would mean going on for more education, which I did not feel qualified to do. Yet, the Lord led in every single step. I knew beyond a doubt that PCC was where the Lord wanted me to go next.
I returned to PCC in 1995 and became the chair of Business in 2013. After I returned to PCC, I taught in the Business Department exclusively until 2008. In 2008, I began serving as the secondary internship director for secondary education students doing their internships at PCA. While I still taught in the Business Department, many of my hours were moved to the Education Department. I have been in the dean position since 2015.
5. Would you share the story behind meeting your husband, and was it at PCC?
My husband Kris (Youth Ministries ’94, M.S. Educational Administration ’96) and I did meet at PCC, but it wasn’t until I came back after living in New Jersey. Kris led the singles’ group at Campus Church, and we met at a singles’ activity. We started dating shortly after meeting and married the following December. After we started dating, we discovered that we had many of the same friends in college because we were both actively involved in music groups; however, we never met. The Lord’s timing is always perfect!
6. Something that many may not know about you is that you’ve adopted your children. How did the Lord lead you to this opportunity?
As a child, if anyone had asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, usually I would respond, “I’m going to be a mommy with lots of children.” When it became evident to us that we would not be able to have biological children, we felt the Lord directing us to consider adoption. Through some friends, we found a local adoption agency in Shalimar, Florida, completed all our paperwork, and began waiting. Within 11 months, which was quite fast, we were matched with our daughter’s birth mother. The whole situation was miraculous, and seeing the Lord work in the way He did to place our daughter with us was incredible.
The day our daughter’s adoption was finalized, we submitted our request to the same adoption agency to be put back on the list for another adoption. After three years, we were finally matched. However, when the baby was born, the birth mother decided to keep the baby. So, we were back on the waiting list. The Lord had worked a miracle for us to have Sydney; if He wanted us to have another child, He would work another miracle—and He did—in a big way. Our adoption agency called to let us know that a baby had been delivered at a local hospital, and the birth mother was giving him up for adoption—did we want this baby? Only God could do that! Our family was finally complete when God gave us our son, Tommy.
7. How have your degrees and experience influenced what you do now?
It has been interesting to see how the Lord has orchestrated each step of my career, preparing me for my current position. Because of my background combination of business and education, I have a unique perspective as I oversee both the Business and Education departments. When Dr. Troy Shoemaker originally asked me to step into the chair position, he asked whether I preferred Business or Education. I remember telling him that I would struggle to choose between the two because the two always go together. All those years ago, when I was choosing a major for my undergraduate degree, the Lord knew that I would have this position.
8. Which classes have you taught, and which do you currently teach?
In addition to teaching a variety of classes in the Business Department, I had the opportunity to record Abeka video classes at PCA: I taught the elective Keyboarding for a year and then the elective Document Processing. I have loved meeting so many Abeka students when they come to PCC. Currently, I get to teach an M.B.A. class (BA 511, Managing Technology and Information Systems) and several graduate education classes.
9. As a dean, how do you get to invest in the current student body, and how have you been able to help students?
Usually, I meet with graduate and undergraduate students who have some sort of challenge. Sometimes, the challenge is figuring out their plan of study and aligning that with when they want to graduate. Sometimes, I meet with students about issues they may have in their classes and help them work through those issues. I recruit students for our graduate programs in business and education and regularly meet with students to help provide guidance on which graduate program would best fit their long-term goals.
I help students in various ways, but probably the most significant way is through the department chairs and faculty—supporting them to be the best they can be in order to help the students achieve what the Lord has called them to. I love meeting with students and finding solutions to help them accomplish what they want. The chairs and I spend a lot of time working together on various aspects that make the programs in their departments successful through reviewing assessments, developing faculty, and providing support for students. I have wonderful chairs, and I love working with each of them.
10. From your position of influence, what advice would you give to students?
I would tell students that they need to learn how to prioritize their time, starting with making their quiet time with the Lord a “non-negotiable.” They have time to do everything they need to do as well as what they want to do, but it takes prioritization. If they learn now how to prioritize, this skill will help them in every aspect of their lives.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.